On February 3, a report showed that China topped the chart with 11.2 percent market share. The ministry’s latest report released on Monday showed data as of February 11. As per the report, China remains at the first spot but its market share dropped marginally at 10.8 percent.
Acknowledging the latest statistics, China’s state media Global Times reported, “… China has once again become the largest source of tourists in the Maldives. Last February, the visa waiver agreement between China and the Maldives came into effect. On Sunday, the Maldives welcomed a record high of 10,213 tourists, surpassing the number of 9,000 in 2019.”
However, according to the Maldives’ ministry data, it was on Saturday, February 10 that the Maldives saw the arrival of 10,213 tourists in a day. This was the highest tourist arrivals in the island nation so far this year.
China Vs India: Maldives tourism trend this year
Tourists in the Maldives from India decreased, while that from China increased over the past month.
December 31, 2023: India was at the first spot on the Maldives’ list “Top 10 Markets 2023” as of December 31 last year, with 11.1 percent tourism market share in the Maldives. China was third on the list.
January 16, 2024: China continued to trail India in the chart showing ‘Top 10 Markets 2024’ of Maldives tourism. While China was at sixth spot, India was at fourth.
January 21, 2024: China took over India around January 21, 2024, in terms of the number of tourist arrivals in the Maldives. India slipped to the fifth position, while China moved up to fourth position.
January 30: As per an official report released at the end of January, China was on the third spot as of January 30, 2024, with 9.8 percent market share in Maldives tourism. Russia and Italy were at first and second position respectively. India was at the fifth spot on the list.
February 3: China grabbed the first position, with 11.2 percent market share, while India continues to be at the fifth position on the list.
Shift in Maldives tourism trend
Notably, the Maldives has been witnessing a shift in tourism dynamics over the years. India was among the largest tourist markets for the Maldives in 2023. However, before 2020, tourists from China were leading the tourism charts in the Maldives. More tourists from India, as compared to that from China, started arriving in the Maldives starting in 2020.
In January 2020, China had an 18.31% share among “Top Ten Markets Arrivals” in Maldives, the highest that year. However, India grabbed the third spot with a 7.99% share. It was in 2020 that Maldives saw an increase in arrivals from India.
India-Maldives diplomatic row
The diplomatic row between the Maldives and India erupted after some political leaders in Maldives used “derogatory terms” against Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his visit to Lakshwadeep islands in India. Tap here to read about the controversy in detail
Maldives President Muizzu had formally asked India to withdraw all 88 Indian military personnel from his country. Muizzu said earlier that the first group of Indian military personnel will be sent back before March 10 and the remaining manning ones will be withdrawn before May 10.
Meanwhile, India said it will replace its military personnel operating three aviation platforms in the Maldives with “competent” Indian technical personnel. “I would like to say that the present personnel will be replaced by competent Indian technical personnel,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal was quoted by PTI as saying.
There also have been growing global concerns over China’s increasing military muscle-flexing in the Indo-Pacific region. Beijing has pledged more funding for the Maldives since pro-China President Mohamed Muizzu took power in November.
Amid this, AFP cited the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as saying that the strategically-placed Indian Ocean nation of the Maldives, which has borrowed heavily from China and shifted allegiance from India, is at high risk of “debt distress”.
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Published: 12 Feb 2024, 06:40 PM IST